The United States bans Chinese telecom equipment on its territory

The US telecoms regulator (FCC) announced on Friday the banning of telecoms equipment and services provided by nearly half a dozen Chinese companies, including equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE.

The decree targets companies considered to pose a threat to the national security of the United States and concerns the sale of any new product on American soil, by no longer allowing the obtaining of marketing authorization.

It concerns Huawei and ZTE, already subject to equivalent rules in the past, as well as Dahua and Hikvision, which supply video surveillance equipment, and Hytera, which specializes in radio equipment. Products already authorized by the FCC, however, will continue to be authorized for the time being.

“These new rules represent an important part of the actions put in place to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications equipment,” FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

The regulator is also considering re-examining the authorizations already granted as well as the procedures for reviewing the bans announced.

In line with that of his predecessor Donald Trump, the Biden administration has adopted a firm line against Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturers, suspected of spying for the benefit of Beijing.

In May 2020, the Trump administration had required Huawei’s subcontractors to request authorization to use American components, effectively blocking the supply to the equipment manufacturer of products manufactured by companies based in the United States.

The decision had penalized the group’s activity, especially in smartphones where Huawei has almost disappeared from the market.

The FCC then classified in March 2021 Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Dahua Technology on a blacklist of companies posing “an unacceptable risk” to the national security of the United States.

Also in 2021, in June, the agency said it was in favor of a plan to ban authorizations granted to Chinese telecommunications equipment companies.

“Despite identifying security issues with Huawei and ZTE telecommunications equipment as early as 2019, this agency has continued to grant approval to such equipment in recent years,” Rosenworcel said at the time.

“In other words, we left open opportunities for their use in the United States through our equipment authorization process. We are now proposing to close this door,” she added.

This ban had raised concerns among small telecom operators, which are the only ones to use Huawei and ZTE equipment in their network. In September 2020, the FCC estimated that replacing this equipment would cost them more than $1.8 billion.

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